Spring Semester, 2019
Speed Dating, Affinity Diagramming, Storyboarding, Interviews, Adobe XD
Understand the future role(s) of social agents in multi-user homes + understand how to design for social agents in the home.
This project is conducted through the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Given current advancements in technology, AI will inevitably have significant potential to augment advanced social interactions with humans. Growing popularity in home agents warrants numerous questions these interactions in the home and what agents should and shouldn’t be able to do. Should household members be able to ask an agent where others are? Should an agent capable of sensing emotion notify other family members of odd behaviors? Who has permission to ask the agent to do various tasks?
These questions will only become more important to address as we design for the future of social agents in the home. We decided to focus on users consisting of families with two adults and at least one child 12 or older for group interviews.
To begin our research, each team member individually brainstormed potential scenarios—futures—of social interactions in the home. We decided most scenarios should focus on multi-user scenarios involving multiple family members to capture these interactions. We used this to better understand themes before making formal scenarios and concretely defining our users.
After identifying themes, we worked in small groups to identify potential scenarios. We generated a list of ideas (shown above) by theme and labeled them based on the context of their interactions (i.e. 2 parents, 1 child in a room), which we deemed important in ensuring good social multi-user interactions.
We split them up amongst ourselves to create more detailed scenarios between 3-5 sentences that would eventually develop into storyboards for interviews. Over 1-2 weeks, we iteratively refined our scenarios and eliminated unnecessary scenarios—ones that either captured a similar interaction or did not provide enough value to the set. Two members of our team developed our personas.
Narrowing down our ideas, we selected close to 30 scenarios to sketch out into storyboards. In our scenarios, it is important to capture the people involved, where it takes place, the activity, trigger, response, and resolution. These had to be reflected in our boards to help illustrate a story of an interaction not yet possible with today’s technology, but that which will be in the future.
We critiqued each other’s storyboards, eliminated and revised, and then did the same through pilot testing on friends and family in mock interviews over several iterations.
We noticed a major need to showcase more positive storyboards that got in the interactions. When we presented randomized sets in mock interviews that weighed the negative interviews more, subjects would focus on the “how” or the result of the interaction instead of the interaction itself. Eventually, we narrowed our storyboards down to 23.
Speed Dating in research consists of rapid comparisons between design opportunities and speculative futures by presenting low-fidelity concepts in a relatively structured and fast approach, similar to romantic speed dating. Providing participants with exposure to numerous concepts allows for better explanation into what they like and dislike across a wide set of futures and help us better understand user needs in an ambiguous space as a result.
Each interview lasted 1.5 hours, primarily at families’ homes in Pittsburgh, while some were on-campus. In each scenario, 2-3 researchers would conduct interviews to help guide participants through their thoughts and feelings. Scenarios were presented randomly using a Latin Square to help control for bias. Over the course of the interviews, we removed four and added two scenarios to reflect our feedback on whether scenarios provided value or if we were missing a theme.
I participated in running six out of 18 interviews.
We transcribed each interview and marked important quotes from participants. We cut out these quotes to include in another affinity diagramming to identify themes from the qualitative data. From here, we referenced and related themes to derive groupings and narratives shared between multiple families.
While the project is still ongoing until submission to CHI in Fall 2019, we’ve learned a lot about what families want from social agents in the home, and have more questions to follow. Deriving these insights required looking past scenario-specific cases and pulling out abstract ideas and themes from the quotes. Some of our findings are listed below.
You can find the research paper here when it is published in September 2019.